Birthday Trip 2017 – Costa Rica
This one is going to be hard to top. For our trip this year we took a whole week and the weekends off and flew down to Costa Rica. It was amazing. There are so many things to see and do. We saw a decent amount of wildlife, but there was a lot we didn’t get to see also. I already can’t wait to go back. We used a travel company called Costa Rica Expeditions that my sister had used to plan her honeymoon. It was nice because we did not have to worry about any of the details. They booked all the travel including vans, activities and even a 2 plane flights within the country. Our first night we spent in the capital, San Jose. We stayed in the Hotel Grano de Oro. The hotel was nice, but the surrounding area wasn’t so nice so we didn’t get to explore much here. The next day we were transported to the Pacuare River Valley. To get to our next hotel, Pacuare Lodge, we rode white water rafts. It was about an hour or so downriver on a fairly calm stretch of river. The Pacuare Lodge is the favorite place my wife and I have ever stayed. We stayed in a Linda Vista suite which despite being in the middle of a rain forest was the nicest hotel room/bathroom I have ever stayed in. We had our own deck with hammock and a private plunge pool (cold due to filled with spring water) which was refreshing after coming back from hikes. We saw our first sloth on an orientation hike of the property. The meals were good and we especially enjoyed all the fresh, tropical fruit. Sleeping was so peaceful with the rainforest noise and the plunge pool overflowing. Leaving the Pacuare Lodge was sad, but so much fun. To leave you whitewater raft a section of river which takes about 4 hours and has significantly more rapids. The guide we had was excellent and this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. After finishing rafting and a quick meal, we were driven to the most popular tourist area in Costa Rica, the Arenal Volcano area. We stopped at a village just before reaching the area and there were iguanas all over the trees. In Arenal, we stayed at the Nayara Resort, Spa and Gardens. This is a big resort with a lot of separate bungalows and beautiful grounds with an amazing garden and tons of wildlife on site. There were also several very good restaurants and a couple different beautiful pools to choose from. I only wish we had more time to enjoy it. We found a Brown-throated 3 toed sloth about 50 feet from the door to our bungalow and spent some time watching and photographing it. We also saw several Great Curassow on the grounds. In the morning, exploring the grounds I twisted my ankle pretty badly. Wouldn’t you know this was the day we had the most hiking planned. I was able to do both of the hikes although I did hobble a bit. The first was the 1968 trail which hikes near Arenal volcano and you can see some of the rock from the 1968 eruption and how the area is recovering. We saw some wildlife and ended the hike with a nice wrap and smoothie. The second was the Arenal Hanging Bridges Canopy Walkway. This was a cool place and we got to see a lot of wildlife including our only 2 toed sloth, 2 snakes, monkeys, tarantulas, and a variety of birds. The best advice here is to hire a guide. The snakes in particular we would have missed most likely even though they were close to the trail, but the guides already new where they were. The next morning we took a really small airplane and flew across the country to the Osa Peninsula. We stayed at an eco-resort called Lapa Rios. This was the most beautiful setting of our hotels. It’s set up on a ridge with views of the Golfo Dulce and rainforest. This is where we saw the most wildlife. We saw another sloth and all 4 types of monkeys native to Costa Rica. One of the most unforgettable things is waking up to Howler Monkeys calling. Here we also got to see Toucans and Macaws. Our last day we walked down the hill to an almost deserted beach with beautiful blue/turquoise water. Costa Rica is definitely going to be a hard place to ever top and I’m sure we will be headed back in the future.